Breakthrough (Chicago, IL)


  • Name:Alexandria Cesario
  • Title:Associate Director of Development

Organization Address

  • Organization Name:Breakthrough
  • Address:402 N. St. Louis Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60624
    United States

Organization Phone

  • Main phone:(773) 346-1782

Organization Web

User Email


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  • Mission:
  • Breakthrough partners with those affected by poverty to build connections, develop skills and open doors of opportunity.

  • Overview:
  • Breakthrough is dedicated to the holistic community development of the East Garfield Park neighborhood. The development of a network model, consisting of diverse programs and initiatives, equips Breakthrough to address and meet the identified needs of residents in East Garfield Park (EGP), a community frequently marginalized by disinvestment and stigmatized by media outlets. Each year, Breakthrough serves over 3,300 children, teens, and adults through its innovative community-based supportive services, including homeless intervention, health care assessments and referrals, a client-choice food pantry, and a number of youth development programs. Through its commitment to partnering in the development and flourishing of EGP, Breakthrough has developing the following core service networks: Homeless Intervention, Neighborhood Transformation, and Youth Development.

    Homeless Intervention: Embodies a holistic approach to housing services, beginning with addressing the immediate, urgent needs of guests by engaging them through a daytime drop-in facility. This initial safe space provides the foundational connections needed to help move guests into Breakthrough’s transitional and permanent housing programs, as well as health care services. Each of these three program efforts are supplemented with supportive wraparound services such as employment readiness, physical and behavioral health services, addiction counseling, and crisis response.

    Neighborhood Transformation: Serving 1,200 families each year in a community officially recognized as a food desert, The Breakthrough Fresh Market provides access to fresh food and produce. The Fresh Market meets the needs of those experiencing food insecurity by extending dignity, community and hope through the provision of food at no cost to community residents. Additionally, the Fresh Market encourages neighborhood transformation by providing opportunities to connect with community members and build relational networks.

    Youth Development: Serving 700 youth annually, the Breakthrough Youth Network (BYN) provides a supportive network of caring adults and holistic programmatic services. BYN addresses the complexity of youth needs in Chicago through programs that support education achievement and success, physical health and nourishment, and constructive creative expression.

    Located on the west side of the city, Breakthrough’s target area of East Garfield Park, a primarily African American community, is one of Chicago’s most under resourced neighborhoods. With approximately 22,000 residents, East Garfield Park is a comparatively small neighborhood yet it experiences a significant number of challenges, including: 42% of residents are living in poverty, 40% have not completed high school, only 14% have completed higher education programs, and there is a 12% high school drop-out rate. The median household income is roughly $18,000 lower than that of Chicago as a whole, and 47% of household’s access SNAP benefits.

    In addition to education and employment hardships, East Garfield Park experiences challenges in its lack of basic-living necessities, such as grocery stores, health services and safe gathering spaces. Due to its deficient access to healthy, nutritious food options, East Garfield Park is recognized as a food desert. As there is only one medical clinic on the south boundary of the neighborhood, health care resources are also not readily available. Additionally, the ubiquitous presence of drugs, gangs and subsequent violence inhibits residents from feeling a sense of ownership in the community – many simply do not feel safe even travelling to local parks. The absence of a safe, empowering environment negatively impacts residents as it instills increased stress levels associated with ongoing traumatic environments, leading to debilitating patterns of job retention difficulties and a perpetuated environment of violence.

    The challenges faced by adults and families within East Garfield Park are apparent. However, the variety of programs offered through Breakthrough provides opportunities for development and flourishing by utilizing and coming alongside of the pre-existing assets within the community.

  • History:
  • Beginning in 1992, Breakthrough was founded as a response to the needs of vulnerable Chicago residents. In its initial years, Breakthrough provided critical services to homeless adults through the provision of a storefront drop-in shelter in the Edgewater neighborhood. Recognizing the complexity of the populations needs, Breakthrough’s founder, Arloa Sutter, began expanding the program’s offerings to include opportunities for self-development with an empowering and dignifying emphasis. Through its early efforts, Breakthrough was able to develop strong community partnerships, through which contracts providing employment opportunities were negotiated and secure for program participants.

    In 1998, Breakthrough relocated to East Garfield Park (EGP) to enable further development of its program offerings for some of Chicago’s most in need residents. With the strong support of the neighborhood, Breakthrough created an overnight shelter for men and later added a shelter for women two years following. In 2000, the Breakthrough Youth Network was constructed to offer development opportunities for youth in the neighborhood, a significant request expressed by the residents of EGP upon Breakthrough’s initial engagement with the community.

    Breakthrough obtained an additional location within EGP in 2004, which enabled the provision of separate spaces devoted to the specific needs of homeless women and homeless men. Four years later, Breakthrough refocused its initiatives and built a strategic plan for a target area of 32 blocks within EGP – a commitment to holistic Neighborhood Transformation emerged.
    Informed by its Neighborhood Transformation emphasis, Breakthrough developed the following core focuses in supplement of its preexisting homeless services: early childhood education and violence prevention; job creation and retention; and indigenous leadership and community partnership. In 2009, the Breakthrough Fresh Market emerged as a client-choice food pantry serving the needs of residents experiencing food insecurity.

    In 2015, Breakthrough will further expand its offerings through the opening of its third building – the Breakthrough FamilyPlex. The essential and dynamic space offered through the building will provide Breakthrough with opportunities to more adequately meet the needs and requests of EGP residents. The following features will be Included in the FamilyPlex: a 2 court gymnasium; a Community Café; an Adult Fitness Center; a technology center, multipurpose art studio, and certified day-care and pres-school classrooms; and a 10 exam room medical clinic run by Lawndale Christian Health Center.

  • Year established:1992
  • Endowment:Unknown


  • Executive / Trustee board size:14
  • Advisory board size:17
  • Staff size:50


  • Organization type:Grantseeker
  • Country of registration:United States
  • Tax Determination Letter:Received Determination Letter
  • IRS Section:501(c)(3)
  • IRS Subsection:None
  • Tax ID:36-3810926

Other Organization Web

IRS Business Master File Information

  • EIN:363810926
  • Sort (Secondary) Name:
  • Care Of Name:
  • Organization Address:402 N SAINT LOUIS AVE
  • Organization City:CHICAGO
  • Organization State:IL
  • Organization Zip:60624-1332
  • Group Exemption Number:0000
  • Subsection Code:03
  • Classification Code(s):1
  • Subsection/Classification Desc.:Charitable Organization
  • Affiliation Code:3
  • Ruling Date:December, 1992
  • Deductibility Code:1
  • Foundation Code:15
  • Foundation Code Desc.:Organization which receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or the general public 170(b)(1)(A)(vi)
  • Activity Code(s):029
  • Activity Code Desc.(s):Other religious activities
  • Organization Code:1 (Corporation)
  • Exempt Org. Status Code:01 (Unconditional Exemption)
  • Tax Period:June, 2016
  • Filing Requirement Category:01 (990 (all other) or 990EZ return)
  • Accounting Period:June
  • NTEE Code:
  • Asset Amount:$19,531,737
  • Asset Code:8 ($10,000,000 - $49,999,999)
  • Income Amount:$5,913,903
  • Income Code:7 ($5,000,000 - $9,999,999)
  • 990 Revenue Amount:$5,806,215
  • Last Updated:3/21/2018 7:07:37 pm

This information is directly from the IRS Exempt Organization Business Master File at Exempt Organizations Business Master File Extract. This information is not under the control of the Common Grant Application and is collected and compiled and can only be changed by the IRS.